Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

October 18, 2017 14:28 ET

Peterborough residents packed town hall meeting on crisis in long-term care

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 18, 2017) - Over a hundred concerned Peterborough residents packed a room at the Holiday Inn, Tuesday night, for a town hall meeting that addressed the growing crisis in long-term care.

"We're here this evening because we have a serious crisis in long-term care in Ontario and our seniors are suffering," said Candace Rennick, Secretary Treasurer of CUPE Ontario and a former long-term care worker in Peterborough. "It's simply not acceptable that our loved ones, the people who spent their lives building and caring for our community, are now being neglected because of insufficient staffing levels. Bill 33 would guarantee minimum care standards and we need to make sure it becomes law."

Town hall panelists Hugh Armstrong, a Professor Emeritus from Carleton University who is part of a research team specialized in the study of long-term care; Tom Carrothers, chair of the Advocacy Committee of Family Councils; and Donna Paris, a personal support worker at Fairhaven, spoke about the growing crisis through their direct experiences.

Also present were managers and members of the Board of Directors for both Fairhaven Home for the Aged and St. Joseph's at Fleming, along with many families of current and past residents.

"We just don't have enough staff to meet the growing and complex care needs of our aging residents. Daily care is rushed and lacks the compassion our seniors need," said Donna Paris. "One very sad aspect of current care levels is that we don't have not enough staff to answer call-bells when residents need help to the toilet and this increases incontinence levels. I love my job and break my back to do all I can, but our staff go home demoralized because we can't provide the care our residents deserve."

Currently the only legal guarantees Ontario's long-term care residents have is that there will be a nurse on call in the home 24 hours a day and that they will get two baths a week.

Bill 33 (Time to Care Act) is a private members bill that was introduced by NDP Health Critic France Gélinas. If passed, it would mandate a four-hour minimum standard of daily care for aging seniors living in long-term care.

"Canada has the lowest care levels among countries with equivalent economies, and Ontario is the lowest in Canada," said Hugh Armstrong. "If we are going to meet the needs of our seniors they must receive 4.1 hours of direct care each day."

"This crisis is about more than the sensational headlines we see in the news," said Tom Carrothers. "The daily reality for our family members is about neglect because there is just not enough staff to provide the quality of care our family members need."

Family members in the room spoke passionately about their own experiences struggling to try and make sure their parents had the care they needed. They expressed great appreciation and sympathy for the long-term care workers they saw regularly, but didn't hold back on their feelings of desperation and frustration at seeing their parent's needs often going unmet.
"If we don't demand that our government pass Bill 33, our seniors will continue to suffer," said Rennick. "We all need to call our MPP to make sure he votes to support the Bill at second reading."

CUPE is Ontario's community union, with more than 260,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

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